A team of archaeologists excavating the tomb of a powerful Italian family has found centuries-old dentures—five human teeth held together with a clever gold plate.
“We couldn’t find the corresponding jaw, so we do not know who the appliance belonged to,” the lead archaeologist, Simona Minozzi, told Seeker.
Minozzi’s team has been working at the monastery of San Francesco, in Lucca, Italy, a Tuscan city that dates back to the Etruscans. The excavations included the tombs of the Guinigi family, one of the city’s most famous and powerful. The tomb contains the remains about 100 people, buried there over the course of time, so it’s not possible to precisely date the dentures from the context in which they were found.
The dentures include five teeth—three incisors and two canines—connected by golden pins to a golden band. The ends of the device are curled to fit around neighboring teeth; the whole thing would likely have been held in place by string, Seeker reports.
Devices like this one are described in writing, but this is the first archaeological find demonstrating the use of the technology. Whoever it belonged to, they got good use out of it: the archaeologists’ analysis of deposits on the dentures show that the person wore it for many years.